Dániel Szabó: A Hungarian living the dream, playing football in France

Daniel Szabó is living the dream of every football player in Hungary.

The Hungarian offensive lineman is playing and starting for his team in France, one of the top football countries in Europe. And that team, the Montpellier Hurricanes, in their first year in the French Elite league, are on the way to clinching a playoff spot.

With a 3-3 record, the Hurricanes are in the hunt for the playoffs, despite having the worst defense in France. What has kept Montpellier in the running is the third best offense in the country thanks in part to an offensive line that has helped quarterback Hunter Hughes become the second leading passer in the league.

Since the beginning of the season, Szabó has been the starting right tackle for the Hurricanes.  Not bad for a young lineman who started out with the Újpest Bulldogs, helping them move up into the Hungarian Football League and then moved to the Győr Sharks. He also made the final roster of the Hungarian National Team but has not made his debut yet. However, his dream was to play football in a foreign country. He has clearly achieved that.

Photo: Jean-Marc Rouaud

American Football International: You are close to making the playoffs. How would you summarize your performance so far?
Dániel Szabó:
There are ups and downs in our performance. There were games that we could have won but sometimes nothing seemed to work. In addition, the injuries did not really help us out.

AFI: And how about your own performance?
D.Sz.:
I am a perfectionist player and never satisfied with myself. I always find something I can correct. That is why I do not like watching videos, because I get ashamed. I know I could have done better. I accept criticism and try to advance in all of my trainings.

Photo: Jean-Marc Rouaud

AFI: What is the French First League like compared to the Hungarian League?
D.Sz.:
There are a lot of differences. Some French clubs are decades in front of Hungarian teams.  Especially, in infrastructure. In some positions, the French players are also better. Moreover, the fans know how to make a great game atmosphere.

AFI: How did this opportunity came, by the way?
D.Sz.:
I really wanted to start my foreign football career. I might have started it a bit too early. I negotiated with a lot of teams from many countries. Nevertheless, Montpellier seemed the most convincing. They said I would be the perfect fit for their style of play and immediately made me an offer. Since then I have really grown to love France.

Photo: Jean-Marc Rouaud

AFI: Did you fit in well? Was it difficult to get through the language barriers?
D.Sz.:
Honestly, that was my worst fear! My knowledge of language is very poor. Luckily, the coaches and my teammates were very patient with me and they did not really care. I am trying to improve in this field as well and it is going well, in my opinion. It could easily fit in.

AFI: What kind of system do you have to play in and what role do you play in this?
D.Sz.:
Our offensive scheme has a lot of varieties. We cannot say it is rather running or passing. It always depends on the opponent. We always try to be prepared for the next game. I have an important role since the first game. I am a starter in the O-Line but sometimes I have to get on the field as a defensive player. No matter which position I have to take, I will give it my best. I also have some experience on the defensive side.

Photo: Jean-Marc Rouaud

AFI: What are your goals in the championship this season?
D.Sz.:
That’s easy: Make it as far as we can, and perform as good as possible.

Photos: Jean-Marc Ronaud

Laszlo Makranczi
László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American Studies and he also has another degree in sports journalism. Currently, he is the press manager of the local team Gladiators and supports the Seattle Seahawks.
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